Recently, I was in touch with a brother church member who is facing a challenge in his business. I shared with him that I was praying for him. He responded: “I know God has my business situation in his hands, but I keep thinking, ‘This too shall pass.’ It may pass like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass!” As painful as kidney stones are, I couldn’t hold back the smile. That is both funny and, often, so true.
It is said that US President Abraham Lincoln, during that nation’s Civil War, kept a sign on his desk, “This too shall pass.” Indeed, the end of that bloody conflict came to pass, but after a lot of pain. Trials come and trials go, but many do not go easily.
The varied trials of the past year have been an opportunity for us to see the hand of God at work. Some of our struggles have had some surprising, and even quick, “deliverances,” while others, well, not so much. We Christians believe God’s word. We trust God to be faithful to his promises. And we are confident of his purposes. But, let’s be frank: At times we find ourselves a bit confused concerning God’s timetable. He doesn’t work as quickly as we hoped that he would. We may feel like my friend: that the passing of our trial is as uncomfortable and as painful as a kidney stone.
I think of our brother Jeremy, who for a very, very long time has struggled with kidney stones. As a congregation we have borne him up in prayer as he has made repeated trips to the hospital only to return home disappointed by a lack of results. Though we are thankful that he has in recent weeks experienced major relief, yet now he is experiencing extreme back pain. So, another trip to Bara, more tests, more treatment, and perhaps even more surgery. In addition to Jeremy there is Derrick and Rose Cousins and Mannie Govender and— There are others in our church family who are undergoing financial trials, relational heartache, and emotional and spiritual assaults. Brothers and sisters let me encourage you that this too will pass.
Lest we misunderstand, as most of us are well aware, the Bible makes no promise that all will come to pass as we expect. But, in God’s way, it will come to pass. Death may be the means of bringing our trials to pass, and though at first glance that may not be appealing, nevertheless the Christian should be able to say, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). We have no guarantee on this side of the grave that every illness will be healed, nor that every relationship will be restored. And, of course, neither are we promised that every sin in our life will be conquered. But we have a vast array of promises concerning the glorification of our bodies and of this globe, in God’s perfect timing.
One of the lessons impressed upon me these past twelve months is that, for the Christian, death does not have the last word. Yes, death is the last enemy we face in this sinful world (1 Corinthians 15:26), but it is an enemy crushed beneath the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The process of dying is not something that I look forward to, but the prize on the other side of death is worth dying for! Paul reminds us, as we face a world of trials, that “when the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:54). And that includes the end of kidney stones.
Pressing on with you,